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January 10, 2014 8:53 AM December Jobs Report: Glass Empty or Overflowing

By Ed Kilgore

After two straight 200,000-plus months, expectations going into this morning’s BLS December Jobs Report were along the same lines, some even higher. It came in at 74,000 net new jobs. The November number was revised upwards by 38,000, and overall for 2013 the average monthly job growth was 182,000, almost identical to 2012.

But here’s an even bigger shocker: the official unemployment rate dropped to 6.7%, the lowest figure since October of 2008. This reflects a poor workforce participation rate, and isn’t necessarily great news, but it will be perceived as such. Indeed, for all the attention us gabbers pay to monthly jobs reports, the unemployment rate is probably the one economic statistic most meaningful to the public at large, so expect optimism indicators to tick up.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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